By Chioma Obinna
A non-governmental organization , Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative, YEDI, held a weeklong, intensive, non-residential community-based behavioural change health camps, aimed at offering life coping skill for over 3,000 adolescents across communities in Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom States, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The programme focused on knowledge and skills on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and Malaria prevention.
The youth-focused, programme tagged: ‘SKILLZ Holiday Camps’, which is the 7th edition engaged the energy, mind and the creativity of adolescents aged 10 – 19 across selected communities, according to YEDI’s Executive Director – Oje Ivagba, the holiday season learning-and-fun programme was hosted with support from ExxonMobil, MAC AIDS Fund, Common Goal, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, FIFA Foundation, and Smaller World 2019 provides a platform for young people to be trained on healthy living, demystify health-related myths and misconceptions.
Ivagba said discriminatory beliefs, practices, and stereotypes about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), HIV, malaria, gender-based violence, and sexual abuse are prevalent in disadvantaged communities. “This situation engenders inaccurate information, unhealthy lifestyles and destructive behaviours that threaten the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.”
The Programme Director, YEDI, Tomisin Adeoye noted that the objectives of the holiday programme were to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health knowledge and behaviours as well as proffer solutions to health-related concerns and challenges affecting adolescents through safe spaces among others.
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“At the end of the programme, participants will be empowered to contribute to safer communities through recognition and elimination of sexual abuse, stigmatization and gender-based violence; make informed decisions, and serve as game-changers in inspiring peers”, she noted.
According to Adeoye, the camps which run for 8 hours per day for five days at each location, are hinged on a learning a model that leverages a football-based curriculum, structured by age and gender, which builds young people’s health and life skills knowledge assets, facilitate their access to health and social services, and support their adherence to treatment and positive protective behaviour.
“The participants also have access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling services, linkage to further care and support and an opportunity for their parents to attend a graduation ceremony on Friday”, she added.